The Royal Bank of Scotland brand has been on Scottish high streets for nearly 300 years and the iconic St Andrew branch has played a unique part in the Bank’s of heritage. After initially starting life as a villa for wealthy town merchant Sir Lawrence Dundas the building became the principal office of the Excise in Scotland. It wasn’t until 1835 that the building was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland who already owned the neighbouring 35 St Andrew Square. Since then, 36 St Andrew Square has provided banking services and advice to Edinburgh residents whilst also being the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters.
Whilst retaining many of its traditional elements, including the famous domed ceiling with 120 stars which appears in all notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the branch will also have a more modern look and feel. The ‘traditional’ bank counter will be removed so customers no longer have to queue to speak to a member of staff and will feature photographs of famous landmarks from the local Edinburgh area. Given the heritage of the 36 St Andrew Square building, the Royal Bank of Scotland worked with Historic Scotland to create a great environment for customers while ensuring the new design was sympathetic to the existing architecture and protected important historical artefacts.
The branch is fitted with new, modern technology such as upgraded ATMs and Cash and Deposit machines, similar where customers can pay-in coins free of charge without having to bundle coins into individual bags, or wait while staff count them. The branch also has free Wi-Fi for customers and iPads so customers can register and access Online Banking services, with staff on hand to provide demonstrations and help where required.
RBS investment into upgrading branches is part of an overall £1bn being spent across the UK on both branch refurbishment and state-of-the-art banking technology. The bank’s aim is to meet the needs and demands of its customers round the clock by offering options for customers to choose how they conduct their banking such as over the telephone, online, mobile banking, mobile branches, ATMs, CDMs and post offices.
Commenting on the new look branch, Tomie Cannon, Branch Manager, said, “Although an increasing number of our customers are choosing to bank with us over the phone, online or on their mobile, our branch network plays an extremely important part of the service we’re providing to customers. The investment we’ve made in RBS St Andrew Square branch shows we are committed to providing the best banking service to the local community and want to be a central part of the local communities where our branches are based. We’re looking forward to unveiling our new-look branch and new technology to customers.”
Ruth Reed, RBS Archivist commented, “36 St Andrew Square has been the home of the Royal Bank of Scotland since 1828, but the house itself dates back even further, to the 1770s. It’s one of the most significant buildings in Edinburgh’s New Town, and the loveliest bank I know of anywhere.”
The magnificent banking hall at the back of the building was completed in 1861, and the recent refurbishment has preserved its unique historical character while bringing facilities up to date with modern requirements. I’m particularly excited by the glimpse we now get of an original feature that was hidden from view for decades; a viewing window in the new floor that reveals some of the Victorian encaustic tiles below.